House passes bill to speed up salvage logging

A bill that would speed up salvage logging in national forests after fires and other natural disasters has passed in the House. Currently, a careful review of wildlife and forest health is required before timber can be salvaged and sold after catastrophes; proponents of the heftily named Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act say this review takes too darn long, causing damaged wood to lose market value (the horror). The bill would require the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to create generic pre-disaster guidelines for timber sales, which could temporarily relax environmental laws and allow post-disaster logging to begin before forest health is determined. A group of 169 scientists wrote to Congress opposing the bill, saying that post-fire logging can damage soil, cause erosion, and actually increase the likelihood of fire. “In short, this bill does not expedite procedures, it eviscerates environmental law,” said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.). Totally an accident, no doubt.